Skip to main content
placeholder image

The role of ants and mammals in dispersal and post-dispersal seed predation of the shrubs Grevillea (Proteaceae)

Journal Article


Abstract


  • The role seed predators play in influencing the dynamics of plant populations has been little studied in Australia. The interaction of ant dispersal and seed predation on the soil seedbank in six shrubby species of Grevillea from the Sydney region of southeastern Australia was examined in selective exclusion experiments, seed array trials and placement of single seeds on the ground. Two distinct seed types in Grevillea were examined and different seed dispersal and post-dispersal seed predation patterns were associated with each: (a) seeds lacking an elaiosome were not attractive to ants and annual seed losses of between 82 and 95% were found in vegetation unburnt for greater than 8 years. Native rodents, Rattus fuscipes, and macropods, Wallabia bicolor, were responsible for these seed losses; (b) seeds with an elaiosome were rapidly handled by ants. Two functional types of ants were recognised. Most encounters were by ants that were small (Local) relative to seed size and these ants simply removed the elaiosome in situ or moved seeds only small distances (<20 cm). Some 0-24% of ant/seed encounters were by large (Removalist) ant species that were capable of moving seeds back to nests. In addition, Rattus fuscipes and Wallabia bicolor consumed at least 32-68% of seeds of Grevillea species with an elaiosome. Ants may reduce the overall levels of seed predation where seeds moved by Removalist ant species escape predation and are deposited in safe sites, hence allowing more seeds to reach the persistent soil seedbank. Mammals do not consume all seeds when ants are excluded, allowing for the potential for some seed escape from predation after seeds are discarded by Local ant species.

Publication Date


  • 1999

Citation


  • Auld, T. D., & Denham, A. J. (1999). The role of ants and mammals in dispersal and post-dispersal seed predation of the shrubs Grevillea (Proteaceae). Plant Ecology, 144(2), 201-213. doi:10.1023/A:1009817132378

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-0032864744

Start Page


  • 201

End Page


  • 213

Volume


  • 144

Issue


  • 2

Place Of Publication


Abstract


  • The role seed predators play in influencing the dynamics of plant populations has been little studied in Australia. The interaction of ant dispersal and seed predation on the soil seedbank in six shrubby species of Grevillea from the Sydney region of southeastern Australia was examined in selective exclusion experiments, seed array trials and placement of single seeds on the ground. Two distinct seed types in Grevillea were examined and different seed dispersal and post-dispersal seed predation patterns were associated with each: (a) seeds lacking an elaiosome were not attractive to ants and annual seed losses of between 82 and 95% were found in vegetation unburnt for greater than 8 years. Native rodents, Rattus fuscipes, and macropods, Wallabia bicolor, were responsible for these seed losses; (b) seeds with an elaiosome were rapidly handled by ants. Two functional types of ants were recognised. Most encounters were by ants that were small (Local) relative to seed size and these ants simply removed the elaiosome in situ or moved seeds only small distances (<20 cm). Some 0-24% of ant/seed encounters were by large (Removalist) ant species that were capable of moving seeds back to nests. In addition, Rattus fuscipes and Wallabia bicolor consumed at least 32-68% of seeds of Grevillea species with an elaiosome. Ants may reduce the overall levels of seed predation where seeds moved by Removalist ant species escape predation and are deposited in safe sites, hence allowing more seeds to reach the persistent soil seedbank. Mammals do not consume all seeds when ants are excluded, allowing for the potential for some seed escape from predation after seeds are discarded by Local ant species.

Publication Date


  • 1999

Citation


  • Auld, T. D., & Denham, A. J. (1999). The role of ants and mammals in dispersal and post-dispersal seed predation of the shrubs Grevillea (Proteaceae). Plant Ecology, 144(2), 201-213. doi:10.1023/A:1009817132378

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-0032864744

Start Page


  • 201

End Page


  • 213

Volume


  • 144

Issue


  • 2

Place Of Publication